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The next thing we are told to do in Hebrews 12 is to lay aside the sin that so easily entangles us. Does it seem a little harsh to talk to a weary, discouraged person about their sin? Does it seem like adding just another heavy burden on someone who already has too much to deal with? This seems to be a natural response, and it can sometimes be the case, but it can also be an indication of a need for greater understanding of the Gospel.
John 8:32 tells us that the truth will set us free. This is so, so powerful. And this applies here in two ways.
- The truth of the Gospel sets us free from condemnation (Romans 8:1) and the power of sin and death.
- The truth about our own sin – recognizing it and dealing with it right now, even in the midst of hardship – will set us free from carrying it along with our other burdens. Sin hinders our endurance when it is not dealt with.
1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” The great thing is, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That’s a promise. It’s guaranteed. It doesn’t matter what your sin is, if you confess it, He will forgive it.
How can we be so sure? Because that’s what the cross was for in the first place! The Gospel is that Jesus, the Son of God, took all of our sin (mine and yours) upon Himself and He died on the cross in my place, in your place. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Why did He do that? Because sin requires punishment. It must be paid for. There is a penalty to be paid for all sin. (Romans 6:23) But because Jesus already paid the price for our sin, we don’t have to pay for it anymore. We can be free from the punishment for sin. (John 3:16-17)
Christians Need The Gospel, Too!
Sometimes we get so caught up in our routines, or our busyness, or our struggles that we become complacent where our sin is concerned. For those of us who are Christians and have had a relationship with the Lord for a while, we can lose our sense of awe of the Lord and what He has done for us. We can forget the power of the Gospel and how relevant it is to us each and every day.
The Gospel should never become boring. When a pastor starts “preaching the Gospel”, we should never tune him out thinking, “I know all of this. I’m already a Christian. This doesn’t apply to me.” That’s an absolute lie! Open up your ears and listen to that Good News! And then live it out!
To truly know and live out the Gospel in our lives as Believers means we understand DAILY our need for the Gospel. To understand our need for the Gospel means we recognize and acknowledge our sin.
Live In The Light
Our natural tendency is to deny or hide our sin. We have the mistaken idea that admitting our sin will result in shame and isolation. While our sin is ugly and shameful, God welcomes our confession so that He can bestow upon us the forgiveness that Jesus has already earned for us. This removes any barriers between us and God, allowing us to enjoy the intimacy with Him for which we were created.
Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” 1 John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light as [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Light exposes what’s in the darkness, so if we want to walk in the light, we need to allow the darkness in our hearts to be exposed. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal our sin to us so that we can deal with it.
Awareness of Sin
Let me just clarify here that I’m not saying that weariness or discouragement or suffering is a direct result of your own sin. Many times, it’s not. I’m also not saying that, when you are in need of endurance or when you’re really struggling with your life circumstances, you need to over-analyze and strive and strain to find a sin in your heart that you might be missing. I’ve talked to many people over the years who have been advised by well-meaning friends that their ongoing struggles must be a result of some unknown un-confessed sin in their lives. This is not where I’m coming from.
What I’m saying is that, in our suffering, we must not neglect to keep our hearts right with God. We must maintain a willingness to be convicted and corrected by Him. And when we are made aware of a sin, we have the privilege of being able to deal with it and be set free from it. We are able to endure when we are not weighed down with known sin. When our hearts are right with God, we can have the peace that comes from unbroken fellowship with Him.
In my last read through the Bible, I was struck by the repeated phrase in Leviticus 4 & 5 “when he becomes aware of his sin” (NLT). God’s Law took into account that we sin unknowingly. The issue was that the sin be dealt with when it became known.
So if you have a heart that desires to be right with God… if you have asked the Lord to reveal any sin in your heart and have repented of any sin you’ve been made aware of… but you are still unaware of any other sin, then you can rest in the knowledge that you are walking in freedom from sin. Your current hardships are not necessarily a result of your own sin. Don’t drain yourself looking for something that really and truly might not be there.
Freedom From Sin Helps Us Endure
When we’re feeling like endurance is a struggle, we need to take the time to allow the Lord to examine our hearts, to show us our sin, and when He does, to confess it, repent of it, allow Him to wash us clean and restore us. We can pray Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” It can be simple. It need not over-burden us. It should not drain us. God doesn’t intend for us to “camp out” in the knowledge of our sin. Rather, He desires for us to live in light of the Gospel and to walk in the freedom He has bought for us. The result will be freedom, restored relationship, and a wealth of other blessings. It’s worth it!
Live It Out
- Read through the Scriptures that remind us of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Romans 8:1, 1 John 1:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 6:23, John 3:16-17. Spend some time praising and thanking God for the gift of salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection.
- Read Psalm 51. This is a prayer of repentance from David after he recognized the sin of his affair with Bathsheba and killing her husband.
- Ask the Lord to reveal to you any sin in your heart that you need to confess. If you’re struggling to do this, if you are afraid of confronting what’s there, pray for strength and the willingness to do it.
- As you confess your sins, you can pray for the grace and strength you need to walk in repentance. Sometimes, repentance requires that we take some hard steps. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk in obedience to the Lord. But how sweet it is! Great are the rewards of that obedience and the richness of restored fellowship with Him!
- Use a concordance or a website like blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com to look up Scriptures about God’s forgiveness. Meditate on that precious gift and receive it! Don’t allow the enemy to suck you into condemnation.
I came across this post recently that really seems to articulate well the misunderstanding – and the Truth – that often surrounds the issue of sin and suffering. It might be a worthwhile read for you, too. Carry On My Heart